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Walk-in tub in a small bathroom? It can work.

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | October 6, 2016

Need a walk-in tub, but don't have the room for it in your tiny bathroom? There are many options that can help you get the walk-in tub you need without sacrificing the little space you have to move around in that tiny lavatory. Here's what you need to know about making that small space work.

Choose the right walk in tub

The vast majority of walk-in tubs on the market are designed to fit into the space occupied by a regular-sized tub. However, many homeowners have found that they might not have that kind of space -- especially those who have a bathroom so tiny that a shower stall is all that will fit. Manufacturers heard the concerns and rose to the challenge, introducing walk-in tubs in numerous sizes to accommodate almost any square footage concerns.

The smallest tubs are typically around 36 inches by 32 inches, with some variations. These tubs have all the basic features of a walk-in tub, but are designed to fit into tight spaces. Users can also choose between tubs that are permanently installed or those that are free-standing or portable, designed to be easily removed.

Look to new bathroom design for more space

Choosing the smallest tub available can help make the most of limited space, and some design options can help make the room seem bigger than it really is. Here's how to find more space when it seems there isn't an extra inch.

  • Install a floating sink. A boxy vanity takes away a great deal of floor space. Remedy that problem with a floating sink. That extra space underneath the sink can make the room look and feel larger, and there's an added bonus: A floating sink allows someone in a wheelchair to move right up to it, without having to reach too far to get to the water.
  • Recess cabinetry and shelving. No more room to put shelves on the walls? Hire a contractor to install recessed shelving and cabinets. It might not seem like much extra space, but a recess of as little as four inches can make a big difference in storage capacity. Depending upon the structure of your house, you might get even deeper shelves.
  • Use the door. The back of the bathroom door often gets ignored. Use that space to stash a variety of essentials in hanging baskets. You can also install towel racks -- most doors can handle at least two or three. To get even more space, make sure the door swings out, rather than in. This can offer another two or three inches of space that you never noticed before.
  • Find unexpected space. Who says you have to go with a conventional shelving unit? Look for space where it is otherwise wasted. A great example is right near the ceiling. Install shelving units that go around the top of the room and use those for rarely-used items, such as extra cotton balls tucked into glass canisters or hair rollers slipped into an attractive box.
  • Control clutter. Though it might seem like an obvious tip, think about the amount of extra "stuff" you have in your bathroom. Is all of that really necessary? Get ruthless about what you store in that tiny room. Keep only the things you need on a very regular basis, and relegate the rest to other storage areas -- like the aforementioned high shelves, or a closet outside of the bathroom.
  • Use mirrors wisely. No, a well-placed mirror can't actually give you extra space, but it does make a space look and feel larger. This is especially true if you have a window with great lighting that can reflect around the room from a well-placed mirror.
  • Reconfigure if you can. To get serious space in your little bathroom, consider hiring a good contractor to reconfigure everything. From installing a much smaller toilet to removing a closet to expand the space for a walk-in tub, many wonders can be worked with the right expertise.

Once you have made the most of all your potential space, look into which walk-in tubs might fit into the bathroom. Whether you go with one that replaces your old shower stall or choose a portable walk-in tub that doesn't compromise the integrity of your bathroom construction, you can definitely make it work in a small space.

About the Author

Shannon Lee has been writing professionally for two decades on a wide variety of topics, including medical and health issues, education, home repair and relationships.